Archive email information

Having a record of all employees' incoming and outgoing email could safeguard your company from unnecessary legal expenses if a dispute over offensive messages occurs. If you save your email server's log files, you can check whether a message originated on your server. However, you can't check the message's content. HyperWrite's Archivist 1.1 archives all incoming email and lets you archive outgoing email as necessary.

Archivist is an automated email archiving utility written in Microsoft Visual Basic (VB). The product saves copies of email messages your users receive, including information about who sent the message; who received the message; any Cc addresses; and the message's subject, date, text, and time sent. Archivist doesn't save attachments, but it shows whether a message has an attachment.

The software consists of three components. The Archivist Server, which Screen 1 shows, interrogates your email server and retrieves email from it. The Archivist database stores the email. The Archivist Client searches for and retrieves email from the Archivist database.

Setting up the software is simple, but you must know your email server's configuration. You need a functional mail server that supports the Post Office Protocol (POP). To install the software's server component, choose the machine on which you will install the software.

When you set up the server software, you must reconfigure your email server. Create a new mailbox on your server (with the same mailbox name and password you provided to the software during its setup). Then, reconfigure the email server to automatically forward a copy of inbound email messages to the new mailbox. You might have to change dozens of configuration records to have the system forward a copy of every inbound message to the Archivist mailbox.

After I set up the software, the product worked well. I installed the Archivist Client to search for and retrieve email messages from the Archivist database.

Archivist doesn't run as a Windows NT service. Because the software runs through the Startup folder, you must log on to the Archivist Server to launch the product. After you log on to the Archivist Server and the server software launches, the software continues to forward email to the Archivist mailbox on your email server and collect the email.

Configuring the mail server is a hassle. In my business (and test environment), I use a SCO UnixWare host as my mail server. I had to create a new user called Archivist and an accompanying mailbox on my UnixWare server. Then, I had to change users' .forward files (i.e., special user-defined files that control how users can forward their mail on a UNIX server) to send copies of users' inbound messages to that mailbox. Users' home directories store the .forward files; therefore, users can edit the file and remove the manual forwarding. You can selectively configure which users you want to archive mail for (i.e., you might want to archive messages that common email addresses receive at your company, such as info, techsupt, or Help, and not archive email that individual users receive).

I was most disappointed that Archivist doesn't automatically archive outbound mail. Saving outbound email is perhaps more important than saving inbound material. Outbound mail could have severe consequences on your business' financial status. For the program to save an outbound email message in the Archivist database, you must email a copy of the outbound message (through Cc or Bcc) to the email address on your mail server. Then, the Archivist Server software picks up and stores the mail in its database. Unless you add the Archivist mailbox as a recipient, the software doesn't archive the message.

Given Archivist's constraints, I cannot recommend the product. The software's limitations severely decrease its usability. However, the price is reasonable, and only users who have the capability of retrieving email from the Archivist database must have a license.

Archivist 1.1
Contact: HyperWrite * (61)(3) 9853-3666
Web: http://www.hyperwrite.com.au
Price: $395 per server, plus $95 per client
System Requirements: Windows NT Server or Workstation 4.0 or Windows 95, 16MB of RAM, 8MB of hard disk space, plus 5MB per 1000 messages, Post Office Protocol 3-compatible mail server